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Armish People

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The Armish are a religious group who live in settlements in 22 states and Ontario, Canada. The Armish stress humility, family and community, and separation from the world. The Armish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of reformation.

Many early Anabaptist were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Armish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.

Although the Amish look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact they do change. Their lives move more slowly than ours, but they definitely are not stuck anywhere. They choose to examine change carefully before they accept it. If the new idea or gadget does not assist in keeping their lives simple and their families together, they probably will reject it. Each church district decides for itself what it will and will not accept; there is no single governing body for the entire Old Order population, but all follow a literal interpretation of the Bible and an unwritten set of rules called the Ordnung.

Old Order groups all drive horses and buggies rather than cars, do not have electricity in their homes, and send their children to private, one-room schoolhouses. Children attend only through the eighth grade. After that, they work on their family's farm or business until they marry. The Amish feel that their children do not need more formal education than this. Although they pay school taxes, the Amish have fought to keep their children out of public schools. In 1972, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark unanimous decision which exempted the Old Order Amish and related groups from state compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth grade. Many Mennonites and progressive Amish do attend high school



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